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Still can't get the hang of contexts

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Tom Munch View Post
    Lots of good ideas here. I really need to change my daily habits. My first instinct each morning is to check my calendar & tasks on the calendar. I do this throughout the day of course. If I'm relying on context lists, which one do I look at first - @Home Office, @Phone, @Home, @Computer? I'm on my iPod & my BlackBerry so I have the ability to make phone calls, check projects, read notes, get online, & do most of my tasks. So it's a wide open field where to start the day. I have Next Actions in lots of different projects, & I don't want to just start at the first context location I hit & just do those tasks for the day until I have an appointment to get to.
    Maybe location/tool based contexts aren't all that important for you? I found that was true for me. I have the traditional @errands and @calls. Right now, I'm using my system for my home tasks only. So besides those two, the rest are all at home. I use contexts more to designate "frame of mind". I have @admin. @desk felt too constricting. I keep my computer stuff here because even though I could do anything anywhere on my iphone, if it's important, I'm doing it on my computer at home. I put anything that takes thinking or is dealing with paperwork or finances there. But calls I'll often make at work at lunch, so they get delineated out. Then I have @home - outside and @home - inside (for other cleaning and organizing sorts of things).

    ETA: I took most of my NAs at one time and cut them up into strips and made piles that made sense. That's what I came up with.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by malisa View Post
      ETA: I took most of my NAs at one time and cut them up into strips and made piles that made sense. That's what I came up with.
      Can you discern traits that all the NAs in one specific pile have in common? Those could be very well your true (mental)-contexts.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Tom Munch View Post
        Lots of good ideas here. I really need to change my daily habits. My first instinct each morning is to check my calendar & tasks on the calendar. I do this throughout the day of course. If I'm relying on context lists, which one do I look at first - @Home Office, @Phone, @Home, @Computer?
        I'd say your first instinct to check your calendar is correct. Your calendar defines the "hard landscape" for your day. However, it's critical that only three things ever go on your calendar:
        1. Time-specific actions (i.e. appointments)
        2. Day-specific actions (actions that have to take place on a specific day, but not at a specific time. It can only be done on this day: it can't be done sooner and after this day it *dies*).
        3. Day-specific reminders (an upcoming due date, a note that your spouse will be home late because of a meeting, birthdays, anniversaries, etc)
        ...and that's ALL!

        With that in mind, if you're putting phone calls on your calendar that don't HAVE to be done on a specific day, you're putting that action in the wrong place. It should go on your @Calls list. But, if you need to call someone by a certain date, you can *also* put a reminder on your calendar (Need to call Fred by 1/15 re: abc).

        The answer to your question about which list to look at first depends on what contexts you have available. If you're at your office or place of business, you don't have your @Home context available. Put it away.

        Once you've identified your available contexts, follow your intuition and pick one. Or, if you have an electronic organizer that allows you to view multiple categories at the same time; try selecting all of the contexts you have available and see what shows up (this could result in a BIG list).

        Contexts give you the focus to know what you possibly could do in the present moment. The other factors that influence what action you choose is your available time, then available energy, then priority (i.e. biggest personal payoff).

        One more thing about next actions. Think of them as bookmarks on your projects, not actions on a "to-do" list. You don't have to (and should not, at least always) just start knocking off actions blindly. Those next actions are there to remind you where your projects left off. So, if you're tackling a project that's due at the end of the week, the next action on your list will get you kickstarted. Then you might find yourself deciding and doing the next action after that, then the next one after that...etc until you reach a stopping point. If possible, record a reminder about what the next action will be after that and get it into your inbox. If you don't record the reminder right away, regular reviews of your Projects list (especially the weekly review) gives you the chance to capture those.

        Good luck.

        -Luke

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
          Can you discern traits that all the NAs in one specific pile have in common? Those could be very well your true (mental)-contexts.
          Yes. After I put them in the piles I came up with the fact that either I'm in a "mental work" frame of mind (@admin) or a physical work (@home-inside), or I'm ready to be outside (@home-outside).

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